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The Derek Jarman Awards

We talk to three of the Jarman Award nominated filmmakers ahead of today's winner announcement at the Whitechapel Gallery

Established to celebrate the achievements of artists working in film, The Jarman Award 2010 was drawn from an impressive shortlist of finalists with the winner announced on Tuesday 5 October at the Whitechapel Gallery. Named after legendary avant-garde filmmaker Derek Jarman, whose cult classic Jubilee was one of the first film representations of the UK 70s punk scene, the awards are still only in their third year. The inaugural 2008 award was won by Glasgow based artist and filmmaker Luke Fowler, whose work has since been shown at Serpentine Gallery, Channel 4, Berlin and New York. This year’s judging panel will include Turner prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing, who has just finished her magnificent and emotionally jarring feature debut Self Made. Dazed Digital caught up with this year’s finalists to find out about their use of film in their own unique work.

Emily Wardill

"I make films like sculptures. The last film I made was Game Keepers Without Game isn’t a conventional film, it’s more like a thing that’s in the room. It’s a feature length drama that’s structurally based on quite conventional melodrama. And then it’s shot like airline food so everything’s separate from everything else and nothing ever touches. I’m interested in the way ideas become images or objects and the point in which ideas hit reality and what that looks like. A lot of the story’s told through objects so you get this feeling that the objects become like characters and the actors almost become objects as well and the never touch each other. The thing that’s familiar about it is the story. You can get really involved in the story because we’re used to empathising with that kind of structure. Everything else about it is unfamiliar. This is what I’m interested in: the narrative acts like a net in which you can introduce things that are much more uncomfortable and jarring."

Ben Rivers

"My film Ah Liberty is about a family who live in the highlands ten miles down a dirt track, so they’re quite isolated and they keep to themselves a little bit. The first time I went there I just filmed what I saw: them going about their business. They’ve got a lot of junk around I like, and general sort of madness going on. Then when I came back and looked at the footage, I decided I didn’t want the adults in it and to just focus on the kids as if they were there on their own. To exaggerate their performance I gave them masks, which took their actions and performance to another level. It’s not exactly writing a fiction for them to perform, it’s more creating a fictional situation out of a real situation. I get really excited when you show your film to an audience and they come up with different things that you’ve not even seen or though of before. I like that films are open for the audience to add a bit themselves. For me it’s more exciting to make films that are a bit more open to interpretation by the audience so in some ways the film is finished only when it’s seen."

Spartacus Chetwynd

"I wanted to start making my own cathartic performance events that make you feel better afterwards. I started doing these rituals in my own home. It sounds scary, but the subject matter is always fun. The Walk To Dover is a documentation of a romantic escape from London, which is referencing David Copperfield. It was part of the novel where as a little boy he escapes a horrible life of hard labour and goes on a long walk to Dover to find his aunt, Betsy Trotwood. It’s a pretty miserable journey that starts with him being mugged at St George’s Circus is South London. So we did a similar journey, four of us dressed as Victorian urchins. It was almost this walking away from the gallery world. It was literal land-art where you walk away from the city, seeing all these weird visual layers of London falling away. I really love the Marx brothers, their borderville acts are live, but also they manage to bring their live energy into making their amazing, crazy films. So, my documentaries are actually an attempt to make something that doesn’t die and become stale and boring by being made into a film. It’s quite rough and ready so you really understand what it was like at the live moment."

The winner will be announcetn tonight between 7pm-9pm at the Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, London, E1 7QX